Best SAT Prep Books
The Princeton Review
Mike & Patrick Barrett
SAT Prep Plus 2020
Cracking the SAT Premium, 2020 Edition
SAT Prep Black Book
SAT Premium Study Guide
SAT Pattern Strategy
Complete Guide to the SAT
By the Numbers
Premium Edition, 2019
2nd Edition, 2017
30th Edition, 2019
2nd Edition, 2017
Practice Questions – 1,400
Full SAT Tests – 5
(2 in book and 3 online)
Practice Questions - 0
Practice Questions - 0
Full SAT Tests – 0
Practice Questions – 1,000+
Full SAT Tests – 7
(4 in book, 2 online, 1 diagnostic)
Practice Questions – 1,000+
Full SAT Tests – 6
(2 in book and 3 online)
Practice Questions – 0
Full SAT Tests – 1
Online Prep Course
Free access with book purchase
Other SAT Prep Books
Access to online video lessons and higher score guarantee
Comprehensive subject review and number of practice tests
Unique strategies to SAT prep
Number of practice tests
Content is clear, precise and engaging
Your SAT score is a critical part of your college application so, you’ll need to spend a good deal of time studying for the exam. The key to getting the best help on your SAT journey is a good SAT prep book. That’s not as easy as it sounds. There’s a host of products on the market—all claiming to be the best. Some books you’ll want to use in its entirety, while some have great parts and not so great parts. Some you’ll want to steer clear of altogether. So, how do you choose the best path to SAT success? To help you make the most of your study time, we’ve reviewed the best SAT study guides out there so you can be and armed with all the tools you will need to crush the SAT.
Things to Look for in a Good SAT Prep Book?
How do you know which SAT prep book is right for you? The best study guides show you a clear path to success, assess your current skills, give you plenty of practice, and provide you with test-taking and subject-specific strategies and tips. Here are some things you should look for when shopping for an SAT prep book.
- Does it have a skills diagnostic section to let you know your weak areas?
- Does it have a robust subject review section that covers everything that will be on the test?
- Does it come with multiple full-length practice exams?
- Does it have practice questions that are like the ones on the actual exam?
- Does it have clear, solid, and understandable advice on how to navigate the test?
- Do I get access to supplemental materials to help me study?
What’s the Top SAT Prep Book?
We’re here to help you on your journey to SAT stardom. This article covers features of the top six SAT prep books. We have ranked the study guides based on the features that make them priceless companions to crushing the SAT. After the dust settled, Princeton Review’s Cracking the SAT Premium, 2020 Edition is definitely the best overall product. It’s comprehensive and offers the most practice questions and lots of practice exams. They also promise you’ll get a higher score after using their prep book. However, depending on your current skill-set and learning style, you may end up choosing a product that works better for you.
The Best SAT Prep Books at a Glance
Kaplan – SAT Prep Plus 2020
Kaplan has been a trusted name in test prep for decades and offers a wide variety of options from several customizable online prep options to its comprehensive SAT study guides. You’ll get plenty of content and practice tests with Kaplan’s SAT Prep Plus 2020 as well as study tips from their expert test-takers. You also get access to online resources that includes a personalized study plan that changes as you progress through the online practice exams. The practice questions include comprehensive explanations. Kaplan even offers a money-back guarantee that you’ll improve your score.
- Access to Kaplan’s online course features like the Qbank
- Great study tips and personalized study plans
- The most comprehensive prep book
- Higher score guarantee
- Some questions not challenging enough
Princeton Review – Cracking the SAT Premium 2020 Edition
The Princeton Review is a leading test prep company and offers a variety of online test prep options and top-notch prep books. If you want an SAT study guide that offers “one-stop shopping,” then pick up Princeton Review’s Cracking the SAT Premium 2020 Edition. In addition to a comprehensive subject review for every section of the SAT, you’ll find four full practice tests with answers and explanations. For even more practice, you get access to four full-length exams online. This prep guide also includes a guide on how to interpret your practice test results so you can see how well you did. To help you pace yourself, they have multi-week study guides, so you’ll be ready to crush the SAT on test day. This Premium Edition also gets you access to videos to show you SAT test-taking strategies and online info about grad school admissions and financial aid.
- Access to useful online content like video lessons
- Comprehensive subject review
- Eight practice exams
- Great for students just starting test prep
- Size can be overwhelming
- Not much new from the 2018 Edition
SAT Prep Black Book: The Most Effective SAT Strategies Ever Published
If you want the best SAT prep book that isn’t put out by a major prep company, then give Mike Barrett’s SAT Prep Black Book a try. He has been helping students excel on standardized tests for years. He worked briefly for Kaplan but left because he knew that his approach to test prep was the best. After tutoring students to SAT success he set up his own company. His SAT Prep Black Book uses SAT strategies that analyze standardized tests from the ground up. If you want to learn about the structure, format, and tricks of the test, then give his study guide a shot. You won’t find practice questions in the Black Book, but it does excel as an excellent SAT math and reading study guide. At its core, is its detailed discussions of the 600+ actual questions from previous SATs. You’ll have to be a self-starter because there are no prompts on how to go through the guide. He only uses College Board resources as examples and doesn’t include any extra fluff–just advice on answering official SAT questions.
- Contains strategies more helpful than most other SAT books.
- Gives practical practice for answering the questions and saving time.
- Gives thorough explanations to problems
- Great SAT math and reading prep
- No practice questions
- Some strategies not in line with other books
Barron’s – SAT Premium Study Guide
Barron’s has been around for more than 80 years and has been helping students succeed in dozens of standardized tests. From the GRE to the GMAT to the SAT, Barron’s is one of the best. Barron’s SAT Premium Study Guide is a great way to build your SAT base for a great test score. This guide delivers detailed subject review, online practice, and expert advice from those who know the test. Their step-by-step review will help you really understand the content, and the seven full-length practice tests will prepare you to ace the exam. You also get access to a flashcard app that will help you learn tons of vocabulary words.
- Large amount of practice tests
- Great verbal and quantitative sections
- Flashcard app
- Free access to their online course
- Practice questions not as strong as real SAT
- Explanations can be difficult to understand
Kallis – Redesigned SAT Pattern Strategy
Kallis has published guides since 2011 that have helped students tackle a variety of standardized tests. They believe that practice builds the confidence you need to crush the SAT. Kallis’ SAT Redesigned Pattern Strategy breaks down typical test questions and offers helpful strategies and tons of practice material. This study guide may not be as well-known as Kaplan or The Princeton reviews study guides, but it’s worth considering because of its unique approach, unlike the other reviewed prep books. It comes with over 100+ question topics, 1,000+ practice questions, and six full-length tests that are really close to the real SAT The guide also includes concise answer explanations that will help you master each question type. It’s really hard to write SAT practice questions that mimic the real SAT, but Kallis does a relatively good job in that area.
- Covers question structure, format, and exam topics
- Recommended by many students and educators
- Questions are explained in detail using clear, concise terms
- Offers six practice tests
- Reading passages need to more reflect the new SAT
- Could do better in discussing strategies
Magoosh’s Complete Guide to the SAT
Magoosh began offering test prep services in 2011 and has helped millions of students both achieve high scores on a variety of college entrance exams. They are known for their online prep services but have ventured into study guides, both in print and eBooks. Even though you won’t find an SAT prep book from Magoosh on Amazon, you will find a great, free SAT study guide on their webpage! They researched all the best print prep guides and had their experts weed through the good and the bad, coming up with a winning guide to helping you ace the SAT. You’ll find tips for SAT practice and how to take a practice test. Most of the book focuses on the test questions in each of the sections of the SAT and how to make what you learn stick. They give you full answers and explanations for practice problems, so you can see exactly how to answer the problem correctly. They also have free resources like access to SAT study schedules and their own SAT YouTube Channel.
- In-depth and concise explanations to all the sections
- Easy to understand language
- Useful tips and strategies from expert test-takers
- It’s Free!
- Limited practice exams
- Better as a companion to their affordable online prep course
What is the Best SAT Prep Book?
Let’s review the features of the top six SAT test prep books on the market, compare them to each other, and rank each of them overall.
What Should I Look For?
Full-Length Practice Tests
When it comes to acing the SAT, practice is the word of the day, and taking practice tests is the number-one way to prepare for the SAT. The best prep books offer at least three complete practice exams, with answers and explanations. It’s okay if the tests are not all contained in your book because most of them offer access to online tests. The more practice exams you take, the better you’ll know the material, and the more prepared you’ll be for test day.
The winner for most practice tests is The Princeton Review, who offered eight. Barron’s came in a close second with seven. Kallis includes six, and Kaplan offered five exams. Barrett’s Black Book did not include any practice exams (they suggest using the College Board’s four exams).
Top Pick: The Princeton Review’s Cracking the SAT Premium, 2020 Edition
The number and quality of questions have a big impact on how well you are prepared for the SAT—the more questions, the better! The questions also need to mirror the style and difficulty of the real SAT. Questions that are too hard or too easy are not a big help.
Kaplan, Kallis, and Barron’s all offer more than 1,000 practice questions to help you get in the practice you need to ace the SAT. Kaplan and Barron’s have a reputation for not having questions that reflect ones found on the actual SAT. Kallis gets the nod for having the strongest set of practice questions.
Top Pick: Kallis’ Redesigned SAT Pattern Strategy
Comprehensive Answer Explanations
For the best test preparation, you also need detailed explanations as to why the correct answer is right, so you can understand the concepts behind the questions. It’s not enough to see practice questions and their correct answers, the book is worthless if it doesn’t explain the answer in terms that you understand. The best SAT prep books will have detailed, easy to understand answer explanations to each question. That way, you’ll be able to answer comparable questions if they turn up on test day.
Barrett’s SAT Prep Black Book is excellent for those who want systematic, easy-to-follow walkthroughs for real SAT questions from the College Board, so you know that what you’re learning actually works.
Top Pick: SAT Prep Black Book
All of the best SAT study guides we reviewed have a lot of great features. So, any time a prep book can come up with something that makes them stand out in a crowd, the more customers will choose their study guides. So, what can a prep book offer that gives them the edge?
- Kaplan’s SAT Prep Plus 2020 offers a higher score guarantee.
- The Princeton Review’s Cracking the SAT Premium 2020 Edition gives you access to their video lessons to supplement their print content as well as many practice tests.
- The SAT Prep Black Book gives thorough explanations to the problems using a unique strategy to test prep.
- Barron’s SAT Premium Study Guide offers free access to their online prep course and lots of practice exams.
- Kallis’ SAT Pattern Strategy provides clear, precise, and engaging content.
- Magoosh’s Complete Guide to the SAT offers a free SAT eBook with useful tips and strategies from expert test-takers.
Top Overall Pick: Kaplan’s SAT Prep Plus 2020
Use Kaplan’s SAT Prep Plus 2020 if:
- you want access to tons of online practice questions.
- you want a guarantee of a higher score.
- you want the most comprehensive prep book.
Use Princeton Review’s Cracking the SAT Premium, 2020 Edition if:
- you want a resource from one of the most trusted names in test prep.
- you want access to lots of Kaplan’s online content.
- you want access to many full-length practice exams.
Use Barrett’s SAT Prep Black Book if:
- you want a unique approach to test-taking strategies.
- you want clear, complete explanations to all SAT questions from past exams.
- you want great SAT math and reading prep.
Use Barron’s SAT Premium Study Guide if:
- you want a book with strong vocabulary help.
- you want to take practice tests that look and feel like actual questions.
- you need to build a strong base for your weak areas.
Use Kallis’ SAT Pattern Strategy if:
- you want a study guide recommended by students and teachers.
- you want a prep book that has questions close to what is on the actual exam.
- you want access to many practice tests.
Use Magoosh’s Complete Guide to the SAT if:
- you want a free SAT prep resource
- you want lots of tips and test-taking strategies.
- you want a study guide that’s easy to understand.